Aug 162011
 

What is Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)?


Xerostomia is the medical term for dry mouth (also called dry mouth syndrome) due to shortage of saliva. When saliva levels are reduced, food debris, salivary proteins and mucous inside the mouth become very concentrated and this encourages bacteria to reproduce very quickly, particularly in certain areas of the mouth, such as the back of the tongue.

Dry Mouth and Bad Breath

Therefore, dry mouth and bad breath usually go hand in hand, which means that in order to avoid bad breath, it is vital that saliva levels are at optimum levels at all times.

We all suffer from xerostomia every now and then; for instance, when we are extremely anxious or nervous. Another example is dry mouth in the morning, which causes “morning breath” (caused by keeping the mouth open when sleeping, by dehydration and reduced levels of oxygen).

However, dry mouth and bad breath can become a serious condition if it develops into a chronic problem, and that needs to be looked at. Saliva has very important functions, including PH control, removal of food debris and antimicrobial properties so it is important that mouth lubrication is kept at optimal levels whenever possible.
 

Dry Mouth Symptoms:

One of the most noticeable symptoms of xerostomia is bad breath. However, there are other ways to identify the condition. Common symptoms of dry mouth (apart from halitosis) are:

  • Pasty mouth (sticky feeling)
  • Pasty mouth (sticky feeling)
  • Difficulty to speak, chew and swallow
  • Burning sensation in the mouth
  • Inability to taste
  • Frequent cavities (tooth decay)
  • Frequent sore throat
  • Frequent cracked or inflamed lips
  • Frequent mouth ulcers
  • Frequent mouth infections, such as thrush
  • Swollen or painful tongue
  • Inability to wear dentures

It is estimated that the average adult produces around three pints of saliva daily. When the output of saliva is considerably reduced xerostomia occurs. Some studies estimate that around 30% of adults over 65 suffer from a certain degree of xerostomia, with medication being the main cause (see below).
 

Causes of Xerostomia:

  1. Dehydration
     
  2.  

    How to Cure Halitosis e-book

    HOW TO CURE BAD BREATH e-Book

  3. Breathing through the mouth
     
  4. Smoking
     
  5. Anxiety or stress
     
  6. Consumption of alcoholic beverages and/or diuretics
     
  7. Regular use of medicines that can have dry mouth as a side effect:
     
  8. Antihistamines
    Decongestants
    Antidepressants
    Sedatives
    Diet Pills
    Medication for high blood pressure
    Anti-psychotics
    Anti-diarrhoeals

  9. Regular use of illegal drugs (and lifestyle associated with it):
     
  10. Cannabis
    Ecstasy
    Cocaine
    Crack
    Heroin
    Methamphetamines

  11. Suffering from any of the following medical conditions (which can damage/impair certain glands that produce saliva):
     
  12. Sjögren’s Syndrome
    Rheumatoid arthritis
    Systemic Lupus Erythematosis
    Poorly controlled Diabetes
    Lambert-Eaton Syndrome
    Scleroderma
    Sarcoidosis
    Amyloidosis
    Hypothyroidism

  13. Undergoing any of these treatments:
     
  14. Chemotherapy
    Radiotherapy for head and neck

  15. Regular use of mouthwashes with a high percentage of alcohol
     

Note on Xerostomia and Dental Decay:

Dental decay is usually associated with xerostomia sufferers because larger than normal amounts of acid are produced in a dry mouth, when sugar is consumed. This can speed up the process of dental decay, and this is why many people who suffer from dry mouth are very prone to caries. Both dry mouth and caries are causes of bad breath, hence the importance to tackle both.
 

Medical diagnosis:

Your doctor will examine your mouth and the quantity, appearance and texture of your oral mucosa. You will be asked about any other symptoms, so remember to mention all that apply (see above). If considered appropriate, your doctor can arrange for some blood tests or scans to be done. These include a sialometry, a sialography or a biopsy.
 

This pretty much summarises what xerostomia is, and how to identify the most common dry mouth symptoms. Xerostomia causes have also been discussed, and how this condition can be diagnosed. Dry mouth and bad breath are connected, so in order to keep halitosis at bay, you need to make sure you get appropriate treatment for your xerostomia first.

Other pages you may find helpful:

How to Treat a Dry Mouth, Acidity & Dental Decay

Dry Mouth Mouthwash Review

Xylitol Mints and Gums Review

Tonsil Stones and Bad Breath

How Do You Eliminate Bad Breath?

How to Cure Bad Breath Guide

  One Response to “Dry Mouth & Bad Breath – Xerostomia Symptoms & Causes”

  1. I can tell one of the worst sensations is when you get the pasty mouth, in the morning is really bad, that feels downright terrible. UGH!

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